American Motors Corporation (AMC) produced some of the most radical and underrated AMC muscle cars from 1968 to 1974.
In an effort to target the youth market, AMC introduced eye-popping color schemes and elevated performance options.
While American Motor Company grabbed the media’s attention with these efforts, unfortunately, all the recognition and accolades didn’t translate into increased sales.
As a result, AMC muscle cars didn’t sell well when new and are even more limited and elusive now.
Many large reproduction houses like National Parts Depot and Year One have yet to support AMC Muscle Cars while Classic Industries does support the brand on a limited basis.
To see AMC Muscle Cars today, you typically need to attend big national car shows like MCACN or AMC-focused car shows like the Kenosha Homecoming Car Show.
There is more love for them nowadays, and they remain a rare and exciting treat whenever you discover one at a car show.
AMC Muscle Cars
American Motors Company Muscle Cars produced eight distinctive muscle cars during the muscle car era including the AMX, Javelin, Gremlin, Rebel Machine, and more!
The AMC AMX is a two-seater sports car built from 1968 to 1970 to compete as a budget alternative to the Chevrolet Corvette and was a lighter, shorter, and more compressed Javelin.
The highest performance engine was the 390 CID V-8 in 1970, with 10.2:1 compression, 325 horsepower, and 420 lb-ft torque.
While impressive on paper, it wasn’t one of the top 10 fastest muscle cars of 1970 and almost came in dead last out of 29 tested, barely beating the Monte Carlo SS454 and Rallye 350.
Three vibrant paint color options known as “Big Bad” were offered in 1969 and 1970 including Orange, Green, and Blue. This naming had nothing to do with any performance modifications.
1969 Big Bad Colors Production
- Blue – 176
- Green – 284
- Orange – 283
1970 Big Bad Colors Production
- Blue – 114
- Green – 74
- Orange – 122
In the 9/70 issue of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated magazine, a 1970 AMC AMX ran a 14.46-second quarter-mile, traveling 95.6 miles per hour.
While 1970 ended the stand-alone 2-seater body style, the AMX continued in the 4-seat Javelin platform from 1971 to 1974.
AMC Javelin AMX
In 1971, the AMX transplanted to the Javelin hardtop body style to compete against the Ford Mustang, Mercury Cougar, and Chevrolet Camaro.
The AMX was AMC’s first true pony car that offered sleek styling, comfortable seating for four, and a big block.
The 401 CID V-8 replaced the 390 CID V-8 and offered 9.5:1 compression, 330 horsepower, and 430 lb-ft torque. A more economical 360 CID V-8 was also an option.
In the 4/71 issue of Sport Car Graphic magazine, a 71 AMX 401 ran the quarter-mile in 14.3-seconds, traveling 98.8 mph, making it the twelfth fastest muscle car of 1971.
AMC Gremlin Randall 401XR
American Motors never produced a high horsepower V8 Gremlin. The largest engine option was a 304 CID V-8 from the factory. However, that didn’t stop one AMC dealer from developing one.
Located in Mesa Arizona, Randall AMC was given the green light by AMC to produce 401 CID V-8 powered Gremlins. These dealer-modified Gremlin Xs sold for $2,995 from 1972-1974.
Randall AMC had a long racing history, and they put that knowledge to work on 401XR. They added a larger cam, high-rise manifold, higher CFM carburetor, heavy-duty driveline, and other performance-oriented modifications to the mix.
Known as the Randall 401XR, they all started life as a 304 CID V-8 powered Gremlin X. Once converted, the 401 XR produced a 13.9-second quarter-mile run, traveling at 103 miles per hour.
While the Gremlin X sold more than 671,000 units in its model run, only 22 Randall 401XRs were produced.
The 1974 AMC Gremlin Randall 401XR featured in the photo above is the last one produced. It sold for $26,550 on 4/27/18 at BringATrailer.com.
With a few additional modifications, it ran a 12.22-second quarter-mile, traveling 115.07 miles per hour.
|2014||1974 Randall 401XR||1|
AMC Rebel Machine
The Rebel Machine was a one-year-only high-performance muscle car model option offered on the 1970 AMC Rebel and was one of the most radical muscle cars ever produced.
The first 1,000 1970 AMC Rebel Machines produced were painted the patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme seen above. The remaining 1,326 were available in any standard Rebel paint color.
All 2,326 were powered by a 390 CID V-8 with 10.2:1 compression, 340 horsepower, and 427 lb-ft of torque. In addition, The Machine option included a blacked-out grille, 15-inch wheels, 8,000 PRM hood tach, and functional hood scoops.
In the January 1970 issue of Super Stock and Drag Illustrated magazine, a Rebel Machine ran a best of 14.40-seconds in the quarter-mile, traveling 100.6 miles per hour.
AMC Matador Machine
The 1971 AMC Matador Machine was the second time AMX offered “The Machine” and picked up where the 1970 AMC Rebel Machine left off.
While The Machine nameplate continued in 1971, the patriotic red/white/blue paint scheme and 390 CID V-8 from 1970 didn’t. Neither did the functional ram air induction hood.
The 71 Matador Machine wasn’t a standalone model and became a bundle option called “The Machine Go Package.” This package included 15-inch wheels, power disk brakes, dual exhaust, and a heavy-duty handling package.
A 1971 Matador Machine could be ordered in any standard Matador paint color and could be optioned with either a 360 CID V-8 or a 401 CID V-8. The 401 produced 330 horsepower and 430- lb-ft of torque.
Unfortunately, The 1971 Matador Machine production run was cut short at approximately 50 vehicles. No official production records exist as of this writing.
|1971||Matador Machine||50 (Approximately)|
AMC Hurst SC/Rambler
The 1969 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler was a $2,998 budget performance muscle car that was produced for NHRA F/Stock class drag racing. It too was a one-year-only model.
The SC/Rambler option included a 390 CID V-8 (315 horsepower), 4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed close-ratio manual transmission, Hurst shifter and linkage, sun tach, dual exhaust, functional hood scoops, twin grip differential (3.54 gears), power front disc brakes, handling package, heavy-duty cooling system, hood pings, teardrop racing mirrors, and a custom grille.
Two paint color options were offered known as “A-Scheme” and “B-Scheme.”
The A-Scheme (featured above) started with a white base with an oversized red side body stripe and a blue stripe that ran across the top of the vehicle.
The B-Scheme also started with a white base but with two side body stripes—one red and one blue running the length of the lower panels.
In the May 1969 issue of Road Test magazine, a 69 Hurst SC/Rambler ran a best of 14.14-seconds in the quarter-mile, traveling at 100.9 miles per hour.
While American Motors had planned a 500 vehicle production run, they ended up producing 1,502 when it was all said and done.
AMC Hurst SS/AMX
The iconic 1969 AMC Hurst SS/AMX was produced specially modified and prepared for NHRA and AHRA drag racing competitions.
According to the window sticker, it was “intended for use in supervised acceleration trials and is not intended for highway or general passenger use.”
Originally, only 50 Hurst SS/AMXs were slated for production. However, thanks to Sunset AMC, two additional units were accommodated. Car number 52 was recently found in 2019.
The suggested retail price of a 1969 AMC Hurst SS/AMX was a hefty $5,994, which translates into $41,438 in today’s dollars.
Because the Hurst SS/AMX was solely intended for drag racing, it was sold as-is and did not include the standard 12 months/12,000-mile vehicle warranty or the 5 years/50,000-mile power train warranty.
The 52 white 390 CID V-8 equipped 1969 AMC AMXs were sent from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Hurst Performance Products in Ferndale, Michigan for conversion.
The conversion included a smattering of high-performance modifications, including a specially modified 390 CID V-8 engine with 12.3:1 compression, Edelbrock aluminum dual-cross ram intake manifold, twin Holley 650 carburetors, functional cold-air metal hood scoop, Doug’s super stock exhaust headers and exhaust system, 4.44:1 rear gear ratio, Twin-Grip differential, Mallory ignition, Hurst remote shifter, Borg Warner close-ratio 4-speed transmission, heavy-duty competition super stock clutch, Lakewood hydroformed explosion-proof bell-housing, heavy-duty radiator, trunk-mounted battery, plus a few other goodies. Even the rear wheel wells were modified to accommodate racing slicks.
No options were offered on the SS/AMX, however, two paint schemes were available, including the iconic red/white/blue or a solid Frost White version for those who wanted to customize their own paint scheme.
According to AMC, a 1969 Hurst SS/AMX ran a quarter-mile time of 11.08 seconds, traveling at 127.11 miles per hour.
Of the 52 built, roughly 40 have been accounted for in the SS/AMX Registry. Like many other AMC Muscle Cars, this was also a one-year-only option.
AMC Hornet SC/360
The 1971 AMC Hornet SC/360 was a limited production run AMC muscle car produced from August 1970 until February 1971.
The SC/360 was a slam dunk idea given the Hornet platform could already accommodate a 304 V-8 engine, which was exactly the same externally as the 360.
With a few stripes, Twin-Grip differential, and a hood scoop, the 1971 Hornet SC/360 was born. The retail price for this compact rocket was value-priced at $2,663.
The four-barrel 360 CID V-8 with dual exhaust produced 285 horsepower while the two-barrel option with single exhaust generated 245 horsepower.
In the December 1970 issue of Hot Rod Magazine, a 71 Hornet SC/360 ran a quarter-mile ET at 14.80-seconds, traveling 94.63 miles per hour.
In total, 578 Hornet SC/360s were equipped with a four-barrel carburetor and 206 with a two-barrel. All 784 Super Coupe 360s were sedans.
|1971||Hornet SC 360||784|
AMC Trans Am Javelin
The 1970 AMC Trans-Am Javelin SST was a one-year-only homologation special to compete in SCCA Trans-Am racing clad in AMC’s famous patriotic Red/White/Blue paint color combination.
With a factory price of $3,995, it is no wonder that AMC only produced 100 Trans Am Javelins of the 19,714 Javelin units built in 1970.
In addition to the tri-colored paint job, the Trans Am Javelin came equipped with a 390 CID V-8 engine with 325 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, Go Package, Heavy Duty cooling system, Dual Exhaust, Ram Induction System, Borg-Warner T-10 4-speed manual transmission, and Hurst Competition shifter.
|1970||Trans Am Javelin||100|
AMC Mark Donohue Javelin
The 1970 Mark Donohue Javelin was another homologation special to help satisfy the 2,500 unit requirement for a new specialized “ducktail” rear decklid spoiler and functional ram air system to be allowed for use on the SSCA racing circuit.
Every Mark Donohue Javelin was equipped with the “Go-Package” that included front disc brakes, heavy-duty suspension, upgraded cooling system, dual exhaust, Twin-Grip rear end, 140 MPH speedo, and a 4-speed manual transmission (standard) with a 3-speed automatic transmission offered as an option.
Choice of either a 360 or 390 CID V-8 engine was available.
The Go Package was a term used to describe a performance package that was offered on the AMX, Javelin, Hornet SC/360, and The Matador Machine. Contents of the package varied from 1968 to 1974 and from model to model.
Mark Donohue Javelins were available in any standard Javelin color, including Big Bad orange, blue and green. In total, AMC produced 2,501 Mark Donohue Javelins—beating the 2,500 homologation requirements by 1 unit.
|1970||Mark Donohue Javelin SST||2,501|